Testimony by teacher Pat Bailey re: Fordham Review of Washington State Math Standards

The following is testimony by Patricia Bailey, an elementary school teacher, to the Seattle School Board. Ms. Bailey has also testified to the school board about the TERC mathematics curriculum in Seattle and about Integrated Math in the Seattle Schools.

State Standards Flunk--Testimony to the Seattle School Board, Jan 19, 2005

I'm Patricia Bailey, a Seattle teacher, and I'm here to talk about the recent report on Washington State's math standards.

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation recently released its findings regarding academic standards in the United States. State math standards were given grades of A, B, C, D, or F for their math standards. Not surprisingly, the State of Washington received an F. The criticisms of our state standards parallel the wide-spread criticisms of TERC, Connected Math and our current integrated math.

This report condemns:

This report declares, "The algebra standards involve little more than linear equations. Quadratic equations are not even mentioned and the concept of function receives almost no attention. Little is done with proofs or geometric reasoning." It also points out that the standards are over-broad and could be reduced to one strand as opposed to the current five.

If individual teachers align their A standards to the state F standards, won't the students be the losers? If students receive A's in F standards, is that good? Maybe getting F's in F standards demonstrates higher achievement.

These "standards" are clearly not a worthwhile guide to the education of Seattle students. We need standards that raise all students to their highest potential. Washington's so-called standards should be ignored and replaced by solid A-rated academic standards.

A spokesperson for OSPI said, "It's not fun to get an F. It makes me sick to my stomach." It makes HER sick. Think of what it does to the parents and students across the state. Think of what it does to taxpayers who are funding the multi-billion dollar F standards. Think of what it does to school boards that are trying their best to provide good education for their students. This same spokesperson tried to marginalize the low grade by implying the researchers had a "right-wing" philosophy. This implication isn't credible since these same researchers gave California and Massachusetts A's. These states are far from hot-beds of conservatism.

To some, it is of no importance that Washington State has failing math standards. They are indifferent to almost anything that does not directly affect their personal comfort. To the rest of us, it is seriously upsetting because it represents the closing of countless doors of opportunity to our students. Forget the state. Focus on Seattle. We cannot wait to begin using A-rated standards. Seattle must be a leader in providing the best academic education possible for our children.

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